TIPS & ADVICE FOR LGB TRAINS HOBBYISTS
LESSONS-LEARNED COMPLIED BY THOMAS WHITE - OLD DOMINION RAILWAYS
List Started 2-2-2021
DC ANALOG POWERED TRACK LAYOUTS & LOCOMOTIVES
PROCEDURE FOR ADJUSTING THE LGB SOUND MODULES TO SYNC THE STEAM CHUFF SOUNDS WITH THE LOCOMOTIVE’S WHEELS REVOLUTIONS
There are two CV settings for adjusting the chuff sounds on the LGB 65001 Sound Module. To set CVs on the Module, just like any DCC/DC decoder requires even when operating it in DC Analog power, you must use a DCC command station or a PC Programming Module, such as the Massoth PC Programming Module, or a MD Electronics PC Module……I sell both as listed on my Website. Consult the LGB Sound Module User Guide for these settings for operating it in DC Analog power.
First, if you don’t already have one installed, I recommend installing the LGB 65011 Power Storage Unit (Power Caps) that plugs into one of the sockets in the Sound Module. I sell them for $80 plus shipping. Once the Power Caps are charged up after operating your locomotive for a few minutes, you will notice that when your locomotive comes to a stop, you will continue to hear the steam sounds, and one of the two automatic sounds will usually activate such as steam release or coal shoveling. Then when you start your locomotive again, the Power Caps will activate the sounds at the same time since sound decoders require a minimum of about 9 volts before they turn on. With the Power Caps, you will also hear the one whistle blast when the locomotive starts. Without using them, your locomotive will start moving for a while until the Sound Module receives the minimum voltage to start, and you will not hear the automatic whistle sounds.
CV193 Start Threshold Analog: Factory Default Setting 128; change it to 1 – 30 range. Sometimes 30 will be sufficient to sync the chuff sounds with a Mogul’s wheels revolutions. But I’ve also found using 1 works better. Try one of the settings to see what works best.
If after changing CV193 you still don’t have the chuff sounds in sync, you can then change CV2, Start Up Voltage. The Factory Default is 2; if you change it to 1, then in theory the Sound Module is start to activate with less voltage. If you change it to 2 -5 range, then it requires more voltage to start. Again, something you can experiment with. Note the demonstration video on my Website's Home Page of an LGB Mogul that I installed the LGB 65001 Sound Module into the tender; the CV193=30 setting produces a great 4 chuffs per locomotive wheel revolution.
If you want to use a Hall/Chuff Sensor to create the chuff sounds, then you need to change CV195 Factory Default Setting 0 to 4. But again, you will still not hear any sounds when the locomotive first starts or stops unless you also install the LGB 65011 Power Storage Unit (Power Caps) as I previously explained.
Those are the basic changes that should help get your Sound Module to be in sync with the locomotive’s wheels revolutions, or certainly to improve it.
PLASTIC WHEELS REPLACEMENT
Your train cars that operate on your layout with plastic wheels create a fine powdery dust that gets on the rails and requires more frequent track cleaning. It also will form a black covering below and around your track, especially if your track layout is on carpet. I recommend that you change your plastic wheels to metal wheels. They not only stop the plastic dust contamination, but they also add stability to your train cars and also make your operating layout sound more realistic.......metal wheels moving across rail joints just like real trains! The Bachmann Wheels Sets, 4 Pack, available on my Website, offer an economical alternative for two axle and four axle train cars. You'll want to put a dab of silicone lubricant on the tips of each wheels set axle before you insert them into the axle groves on your train car's truck/boggie.
Locomotive Wheels & Carbon Brushes Wear: You should periodically reverse the direction of your locomotives and train cars on your layout. Otherwise, one side of the wheels will wear more than the other due to the drag from curved track sections on the inner wheels. Your locomotive's wheels and carbon brushes will then require replacement on the heavy wear side before the opposite side. Note the photo below of wear differences from a set of carbon brushes removed from an LGB Mogul locomotive.
DCC DIGITAL TRACK SYSTEMS & LOCOMOTIVES
MASSOTH DCC DECODERS - MEASURING DCC VOLTAGE
Massoth advises to use an RMS-capable multimeter in AC mode with load, i.e., a device connected to the terminal and powerd “on“.
The Massoth DCC decoder terminals output is not DC voltage; it is a pulse modulation with 24 volts (peak voltage) and smaller pulses for lower voltages.
The output for the motor is also a pulsed current, not a DC current.
Also remember that the output voltage on a specific decoder terminal will be determined by DCC command station’s DCC output voltage to the track. And most large scale DCC decoder’s output voltage at the terminals will be approximately 1.5 volts less than the track input voltage to the decoder. For example, my Piko DCC command station’s DCC output to my programming test track is 18.4 volts DCC. That means the decoder’s Headlight Terminal’s maximum voltage output (CV53=32) will be about 17 volts. This all needs to be taken into consideration when dimming a decoder’s output voltage terminal for a particular device such as 5 v. lights and 5 v. smokers. Some DCC decoder installers instead prefer to change out all the 5 volts devices and replacement them with 19 volts lights and an 18 volts smoker. That obviates the need for doing any dimming of the voltage for specific devices.
In order to accurately measure your DCC command station's output voltage going to your track and to the locomotive's DCC decoder, you must use a multimeter capable of measuring DCC voltage and amps. A regular voltmeter or multimeter, even my expensive Fluke unit, cannot properly measure DCC current. The RRampMeter v.4 is specifically made for large G scale hobbyists for this purpose. It will meaure DC, AC, and DCC Amps and Voltage. Old Dominion Railways is now a RRampMeter v.4 Dealer and it can found on this site's DCC Components and Accessories page.
DCC DEVICES OUTPUT CURRENT
Useful Data for Determining Maximum Allowable Voltage and Amperage on DCC Decoder Output Terminals (Tested with Fluke Multimeter and RRampMeter4). Note that an LGB 18 volts smoke unit consumes less than half the current of an LGB 5 volts smoke unit. So when installing a DCC sound decoder, I will sometimes replace the LGB locomotive's existing 5 volts smoker with an 18 volts smoker and connect it to a terminal with full track power. I've found some Massoth DCC sound decoders will create a low hum noise when the output terminal is "dimmed" to 5 volts when a 5 volts smoker is connected. Solution for the hum noise: Install a 5 volt regulator to a terminal with full track power (usually 18 - 20 volts), or replace the 5 volts smoker with an 18 volts smoker and use full track power at the output terminal.
DCC DECODER WIRING & TESTING INSTALLATION TECHNIQUE
First wire only your LGB locomotive’s motor block wires to the decoder’s two track power and two motor terminals ----- guidance is in the Massoth Installation Manual. Next connect the speaker to the decoder’s 2-pin speaker socket. Do NOT connect any other devices such as lights or smoker unit to the decoder.
Second, place your locomotive or just the motor block with the four wires (track power/motor) and the speaker connected to the decoder onto your separate programming track. Next, connect a DC- powered throttle’s wires to the programming track, apply slight DC voltage to the track and listen to determine if you begin to hear the decoder’s locomotive sounds, and maybe the slight movement of the motor block/locomotive. If you get these results, that means you’ve properly wired the decoder. If you hear nothing, it usually means the decoder isn’t wired properly ----- don’t apply additional DC power, but instead double check the decoder’s wiring for track power and motor and correct it. Why test with DC voltage: If you made a mistake in the wiring of the decoder, when you test it in low DC voltage, it’s less likely to damage the decoder if you’ve made a wiring mistake. If you instead test the decoder using DCC current, you’re immediately applying full track power, 18 – 22 volts DCC , to the decoder, and if you’ve made a wiring mistake, then it’s likely you’ll permanently damage the decoder. The decoder's factory warranty will not cover your wiring mistake.
Third, if your programming test of the decoder is successful, then continue wiring the next device such as the headlight, cab light and rear light. Before you test the lights and smoker, remember that most LGB locomotives use 5 volts devices. So, you’ll first need to “dim” the lights and smoker terminals on the decoder from the factory-default setting for full track power (e.g., CV50=32 to CV50=5 or 7). Again, you might want to test the lights on your programming track before proceeding to install any other devices. Why: The benefit of testing each device on your programming track after you install it helps you confirm the wiring is correct, or whether there may be some defect in the device. It’s much easier to find these wiring or other problems causing the device to not work if you test each device immediately after installing. If you wait to test all the installed devices and find the decoder doesn’t work properly, then trying to find the problem is much more difficult.
LGB/MARKLIN MSD3 MFX/DCC/ANALOG SOUND DECODERS
LGB locomotives produced by Marklin since 2014 have their MSD3 mfx/dcc/dc Sound Decoders installed. If your DCC system does not have the mfx technology feature, it's recommended that the mfx feature be turned off on the decoder using your DCC system to preclude potential operating conflicts between the mfx and dcc protocols. CV50 controls these features: CV50=2 for DCC and Analog only; the factory default setting is CV50=10 for mfx, dcc and analog operation. Marklin CS3/+ and the ESU EcOS command stations are mfx capable (EcOS uses M4), and when operating an mfx equipped decoder such as Marklin's MSD3 or ESU decoders, it's recommended to turn off dcc and analog features in the decoder. Check your locomotive's User Manual since the latest model's decoders now have five technologies: mfx/dcc/mm/analog dc/analog ac, and the Default setting is CV50=15 for all technologies to be "ON."
ADDING MASSOTH MAXI POWER CAPS TO LGB 21670 TRACK CLEANING LOCOMOTIVE
There's not a socket or solder pad for installing Massoth Maxi Power Caps found on the latest "Red" model of the LGB 21670 DCC/DC Track Cleaning Locomotive. Power caps will help your locomotive to get through faulty track switches and dirty track sections. Massoth Germany provided me with the below PDF document which specifies where to solder the Massoth Power Caps onto the main circuit board.
Using Massoth & ESU DCC Track Switch Decoders in Garden Railways
This advice is from Massoth's Technical Department in Germany. The 4-channel DCC switch decoders should not be located directly outdoors and exposed to the weather elements. Instead, they should be slightly elevated in a model building to be protected from direct rain and snow (weather influence). Condensation could form in a weatherproof housing which increases the possibility of water getting into the electronic components, especially during during heavy rain. But that's all there is to consider. Of course, the Massoth 1-channel DCC switch decoders are sealed and weather-proof.